Opportunities for the Modern-Day Cleaning Professional

This article appeared in Cleaning Matters Magazine.

The nature of cleaning tasks is simple, but the business of cleaning is very complicated. The modern-day cleaning professional has evolved beyond wiping down surfaces and mopping floors. Since the pandemic, the world has recognised the cleaning industry as being at the forefront of global health, hygiene and public safety initiatives. 

This means the importance of the cleaning industry is more pronounced than ever before. Yet as economic pressures impact industries worldwide, the essential cleaning industry is finding higher costs, tighter labour pools and fierce competition all dipping into their ability to function as high-performing essential service providers – and eroding profit margins. 

To counteract current industry challenges, consider taking advantage of these opportunities: investing in hiring, rethinking retention, leaning into proof of service, diversifying revenue streams and creating efficiencies. 

Invest in hiring

Although the Office for National Statistics recently reported slight decreases in job vacancies and a slightly increased employment rate, the truth is the labour market continues to be competitive. Even as much of the world enters an endemic outlook, ripple effects from Brexit, minimum wage policies, global conflicts, skill gaps and the decreased working populace are all expected to continually impact labour supply. 

Knowing this, cleaning companies must take advantage of the opportunity to invest in hiring now. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean in a financial sense, although increasing benefits may have financial implications. Instead, invest in the way you’re approaching hiring by approaching your recruitment strategies in a similar manner as you do sales or marketing efforts. 

Be strategic with how you are targeting “leads” (applicants). The same tools you use to generate leads in your sales funnel – SEO, PPC, social media campaigns, emails – can be tweaked to add value to your hiring process. Don’t forget about the potential of a rehire market, too. Some employees who have churned over the past few years in hopes of higher wages may be looking to reenter the market after meeting less favorable working conditions or expectations in other industries. 

Rethink retention

We’ve all heard it before: the best solution to hiring challenges is strong retention. Yet in industries with 100-400% annual churn rates, that’s easier said than done. Add the potential of short-term economic issues into the mix and some solutions – like raising wages – will seem out of reach. 

One option to quickly add value to employee benefits – without impacting cash flow or reserves – is through flexible pay options. 

This includes a way for employees to receive payment for hours worked, without having to wait for the next pay cycle to process. At TEAM Software by WorkWave, we have flexible pay integrations with select workforce management software solutions, which also means your existing payroll processes can continue as usual – even as your employees are paid on demand. 

In an economy impacted by rising inflation, fuel and energy costs, access to wages on a flexible schedule can mean the difference between an employee being able to secure transportation (whether that’s public transportation or fuel for their own vehicle) to get them to their job location on time. Companies are experiencing the ripple effects this reliability has on contract coverage. 

This kind of reliability directly impacts customer satisfaction, too. When it boils down to it, this kind of strategy could have positive ripple effects on both employee and customer retention.

Lean into proof of service

Proof of service is crucial in the commercial cleaning industry for several reasons. It supports quality assurance, contract compliance, liability protection and billing accuracy. It provides accountability and transparency to both the cleaning company and the client, ensuring agreed-upon SLAs are completed to standard. 

Especially as clients may look for areas to cut back their own expenditures, proof of service documentation is critical in ensuring the ability to retain contracts at scale.

Still, there are some companies in our sector that are lagging behind in their ability to offer reporting and analytic documentation to their clients on-demand, citing time constraints or lack of visibility into field operations per contract. Not taking advantage of the opportunity to be on the forefront in this area will have lasting effects on your business’s ability to retain – and win – contracts into the future. 

Diversify revenue streams

Many clients of the commercial cleaning market are scaling back on the scope of work included in their contracts. With persisting supply shortages, rising inflation, high market interest rates and energy prices, the British economy is on uncertain footing, even as the Bank of England recently announced the narrow avoidance of a technical recession in the second quarter of the year. 

Knowing there’s a possibility of loss of revenue off of those contracts scaling down, take the time to see if there are opportunities to broaden service scope. For a cleaning company, for example, proactively market add-on services like high dusting or stripping and waxing floors.

Broadening the scope of services you can provide can equal incremental revenue streams to widen your bottom line, especially if you have the back-end infrastructure built in to manage requests for ad-hoc services. 

Create efficiencies

As a part of the software industry, we at TEAM Software by WorkWave often talk about how implementing the right tool can create efficiencies, maximise profits and drive growth. 

That’s 100% true. For example, a software that connects scheduling, time and attendance, and payroll preparation can save administrative time, improve employee engagement and satisfaction, and ultimately save money on a company’s bottom line. 

Still, the term “efficiencies” can often be seen as a buzzword, especially when coming from a software company. That’s why it is important to strive to gain efficiencies in achievable, measurable ways. Look at areas that are costing days to weeks of efforts by your back-office teams. Are you having to recalculate financial models for accuracy? How much time is spent on mundane tasks like processing holiday requests or answering pay queries? How much money is going into paper-based processes, which ultimately lead to rework and manual data entry downstream? 

Technology should be looked at as a tool to support these areas. As efficiencies are gained in each core function of your business, you’ll find you’re able to control overhead and increase revenue growth long-term. 

Looking ahead

2023 is not without its challenges. That doesn’t mean businesses automatically need to suffer alongside the economic uncertainty the world is currently facing. By taking a proactive approach into each of these areas for opportunity, cleaning professionals can stay ahead of the curve and elevate their business long-term. 

With a career in sales spanning over 12 years, Nick has had the pleasure of working with some of the world’s leading FMCG and software companies, alongside some truly inspirational people. On his journey, he’s learnt a lot about how his skills can be applied across the multitude of sectors he’s serviced. Over the past two years with TEAM Software by WorkWave, he’s had the privilege to apply these skills across the UK’s Facilities Management industry. In his role, he works with organisations to understand how evolving industry challenges are affecting their operations and help them to adapt, ensuring they meet their service requirements through innovation in technology.